Heather Laird Collects Big Win as Sailfish Move On at NCCAA National Tournament

Written By: Michael Brown, Palm Beach Atlantic University SID

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.- Needing a victory just to stay alive in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Championship Tournament, Palm Beach Atlantic University head softball coach Kimmy Bloemers turned to sophomore right-hander Heather Laird who delivered in a big way as PBA came away with a 5-2 victory over Spring Arbor University.

Once again welcoming in a big crowd to the Lake Catherine Sportsplex on Friday afternoon, the home-standing Sailfish pleased both the coaching staff and the hundreds of fans watching with a solid victory over number two-seeded Spring Arbor University.

Laird earned the start for PBA inside the pitching circle and responded with five solid innings before handing it over to teammate Ashley Jones who closed out the contest by allowing only one hit over the final two innings. Laird earned the victory by tossing five frames and giving up just three hits and two earned runs while walking two and striking out four batters.

Offensively, the PBA bats came alive after a disappointing overall performance in their opener on Thursday which resulted in a 2-0 defeat against Judson University. Against SAU, the Sailfish pounded out 12 hits while scoring four times in the third inning to give the Fish a solid lead.

Perhaps helping jumpstart the entire team came from a spectacular defensive play from left-fielder Chelsea Gravini in the bottom of the second inning. Racing towards the side fence in foul territory, Gravini leaped and reached over the fence to bring back a foul ball and end the inning for the Cougars. The play left the Cougars in shock and fans all around the park talking about Gravini’s great grab.

The third inning began with a Katie Medder bunt single followed by a sacrifice bunt from junior Rebecca Bolinger. Casey Gibson delivered a run-scoring double to plate the first PBA run followed by a Gravini triple that nearly left the ballpark in straight-away centerfield. She would later come in to score on a wild pitch.

The final run of the inning came from the bat of senior Holly Elliott as she drove home a run on a RBI single.

The final run for PBA in the ballgame came from freshman Caitlin Bouschet who delivered a blistering line drive homerun over the left-field fence, her second dinger of the season and the first for any player in the tournament.

Moved up in the lineup by Bloemers to the second spot in the lineup after a solid effort in yesterday’s game, Gibson responded with two more hits in three at-bats while Gravini, Bouschet, and Medder each came through with two hits apiece.

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